Books

Scottsboro

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Ellen Feldman, Picador, £7.99

The Scottsboro boys were nine young black men wrongly convicted of the rape of two white women on a train in Alabama in 1931 and sentenced with the death penalty. Their fight for justice became a worldwide cause that saw Clarence Norris, as the last living defendant, receiving a pardon from the notorious governor of Alabama, George Wallace, only in 1976.

On Russia With Love

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Review of 'Marx and Anglo-Russian Relations and Other Writings', D B Riazanov, Francis Boutle Publishers £10

During the 19th century, constitutional Britain and despotic Russia had one common and abiding interest--the defeat of revolution. In 1848, when the Tsar sent his army to crush the Hungarian Revolution, Lord Palmerston, Britain's foreign secretary, murmured to the Russian ambassador, 'Get it over quickly'. Although Britain and Russia clashed during the Crimean War of 1854-56, the war had a sham quality because Britain sought not to destroy but to contain Russia, so as to save Tsardom for the cause of counter-revolution.

The Revolution Will Not be Publicised

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Review of 'Censored 2003', ed. Peter Phillips, Seven Stories £12.99

The US media sank to new depths in the aftermath of 11 September 2001. The major networks dropped even the pretence of objectivity and neutrality in favour of naked, shameless patriotism. Dan Rather, the prominent CBS newscaster, recently admitted, 'It starts with a feeling of patriotism within oneself. I know the right question, but you know what? This is not exactly the right time to ask it.'

Personal Best

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Review of 'In Black and White', Donald McRae, Scribner £18.99

Books about sporting celebrities rarely capture the attention of socialists, and perhaps rightly so. The vast majority are instantly forgettable chronicles of 'glory days' ghost-written for performers with no obvious talents beyond their speed, strength, stamina or agility.

Countering Captain Correlli

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Review of 'British Intervention and the Greek Revolution', John Newsinger, Socialist Historians Society £2.75

The Second World War was fought to make the world safe for freedom and democracy. That is the claim made today, just as it was at the beginning of 1946 when the regiment I was in was posted to Greece. The war being over, troops in the Mediterranean were expected to be sent home and demobilised. They were bemused--but not amused--to find themselves being used to keep in power a right wing government of black marketeers and Nazi collaborators. At the same time they were used in the relentless persecution of the Resistance.

Land and Freedom

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Review of 'Cutting the Wire', Sue Branford and Jan Rocha, Latin America Bureau £14.99

The opening demonstration of this year's World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, was dominated by the red flags and banners of the Landless Workers' Movement--the MST. Not all of its one million members were there; not even the 100,000-plus who attend their schools and further education classes. But what they brought to the meetings and the debates was the experience of an extraordinary and in many ways successful movement that in just over 15 years has mobilised and led thousands of land occupations, protests and marches.

Dispersing the Myths about Asylum

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Review of 'No One is Illegal', Steve Cohen, Trentham Books £17.99

'Asylum Madness' is the logo the 'Sun' is running above the articles it is pumping out daily against refugees in Britain. In fact it more accurately describes the level of hysteria that the right wing press and politicians have been stirring up. Steve Cohen's book 'No One Is Illegal: Asylum and Immigration Control Past and Present' helps to debunk some of those myths around refugees.

The Leap Backwards

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Review of 'Stalinism', Ed: David L Hoffman, Blackwell £15.99

The history of the revolution in Russia in 1917 and its ultimate defeat provide important lessons for those seeking a socialist alternative to capitalism.This textbook, intended for students, is a collection of 12 essays from leading international Russian historians. The aim is to provide different interpretations for the rise of Stalin. In particular it seeks to address why the October Revolution led to a dictatorship instead of a communist utopia.

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